Eleanor Clift Applauds Webb's Smackdown on Bush
Eleanor Clift, of Newsweek, posted an excellent column yesterday in which she echoes my sentiments very effectively. An excerpt:
A more seasoned politician might have been flattered that the president knew his son was in the line of fire and bothered to ask about him. That wouldn’t be Webb, a best-selling author who got into electoral politics for primarily one reason, his opposition to the Iraq war. “I’d like to get them out of Iraq,” he replied, according to several published accounts. “That’s not what I asked you,” Bush said, repeating his question: “How’s your boy?” Webb’s reply: “That’s between me and my boy.” Afterward, a source told The Hill newspaper that Webb was so angered by the exchange he was tempted to slug the guy. That might have prompted the Secret Service to pull their weapons, which wouldn’t have been the first time Webb, a highly decorated Vietnam combat veteran, faced the barrel of a gun.It's an excellent read and you can get the whole thing here.
A quirky individualist who wants no part of the phony collegiality of Washington, Webb was rightly insulted when Bush pressed him in that bullying way—“That’s not what I asked you”—trying to force the conversation back to Webb’s son. Webb could have asked how the Bush girls are doing, partying their way across Argentina. He could have told Bush he was worried about his son; the vehicle next to him was blown up recently, killing three Marines. Given the contrast between their respective offspring, Webb showed restraint.
But that’s not how much of official Washington reacted. Columnist George F. Will was the most offended, declaring civility dead and Webb a boor and a “pompous poseur.” Were the etiquette police as exercised when Vice President Dick Cheney told Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy to perform an anatomically impossible act on the Senate floor? Or is that amusing by Washington’s odd standards?